Rugby League: Castleford in last-chance brasserie

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The Independent Online
The Bradford Bulls might be charging away with the Stones Super League title, but there are still matches of great significance this weekend, starting today in the contrasting surroundings of Huddersfield and Paris.

At the Charlety stadium this evening, Castleford have a chance - conceivably their last chance - to climb out of last place in the table, provided they beat Paris by enough. If they lose, there will be a four-point gap between the two sides and life will look precarious in the extreme for one of the code's traditional heartland clubs.

At Huddersfield this afternoon, Hull can ensure that it will be they who will replace whoever drops out of the top division. Despite their shabby performance against Featherstone last week, they should seize the opportunity at the second time of asking. Victory for Huddersfield, on the other hand, would leave them with a lingering hope of snatching the prize.

It is a mark of St Helens' decline that it will be a major surprise tomorrow if they slow down Bradford's progress towards replacing them as champions. On top of their injury list and the general loss of confidence, Saints will be without the suspended Derek McVey and, without any title aspirations of their own, might experiment with team selection.

Leeds, with second place to play for when they meet Salford, will be without Francis Cummins for six weeks and Barrie McDermott, who broke his leg against Halifax on Wednesday night, for considerably longer. Graham Holroyd, who has been transfer-listed this week, will continue to train and play for Leeds while other clubs take note of his availability. Salford are showing a keen interest in Oldham's David Bradbury.

Something will have to give at Warrington, where the arrival of Halifax brings together two sides with long losing runs. Warrington must find replacements for Kelly Shelford and Nigel Vagana, both suspended for two matches for a spear tackle, while Halifax hope to have their hooker Paul Rowley back after a knee injury.

The game breaks new ground with Oldham, unable to use Boundary Park because of re-seeding, taking a match to Hyde for the first time. Defeat for Oldham by Sheffield Eagles could leave them just one point above the two bottom clubs, if Castleford were to win in Paris.